Monday 19th November saw the Oxford Student’s Union host its first leadership event aimed at BAME students.
Held at Merton College from 5:30-9pm, attendees were witness to a range of talks focusing on four key topics: being the only BAME person in the room; managing conflict; being a student leader; and using your position to create change.
The event aimed to share “insights and practical tips for navigating white dominated environments”, enabling BAME students to become more effective leaders.
Speakers included two of the Editorial staff of Onyx Magazine, which aims to showcase “the voices of British students with African and Caribbean heritage” and was launched earlier this term. Serena Arthur, the Deputy Editor, was present, as was Sascha DaCosta Hinds, Poetry and Fiction Editor.
Other speakers included Ooooota Adepo, an entrepreneur and campaigner; Zoe Garshong, founder of Ms Independent, which provides support to women globally to try and close the gender pay gap; and Alexander Gordon, research facilitator of the Maths Institute and co-chair of the BME Staff network.
Hannah Lloyd, SU Student Engagement Co-ordinator, told The Oxford Student: “Our speakers helped students to realise that being of a BAME background is not a hinderance but adds significant value to every room.
“Feeling caught between two cultures positions us to bridge the gap between two groups of people, be that between academics and students or whites and non-whites. Having diverse perspectives positions us to innovate, and we don’t need to have it all together before taking the first step of our leadership journey.”
Anisha Faruk, chair of SU Council, told The Oxford Student that: “The BAME leadership event held by the SU is exactly what we need to encourage BAME students to take on larger roles in the SU and wider university life. The event was informative as we listened to talks about the challenges BAME people face in university spaces and how we could overcome those difficulties. It was inspiring to meet so many BAME students keen to get involved in more areas of university life and I think the event was overall a massive success.”
The event is planned as the first of many, and comes ahead of the launch of SU Projects by Oxford SU next term. This pathway aims to offer students at the University new opportunities through which they can start and run their own projects, with the support and funding of the SU.